Hello Lovely Ones, This morning as I was making my first cup of tea and listening to my regular radio show, the question the presenters were asking was, 'what have we been doing (or taking up) during this time in lockdown that has changed us for the better?' Some people called in saying they gave up smoking or drinking, some took up gardening or painting. For me, it has been yoga. I had been practising yoga for almost 25 years. I did all kinds, even hot yoga. But in the last few years my practice has waned until I felt my body pulling me back to the mat. I was yearning for focus. My dear aunt, with whom I was very close, passed away. I couldn't be near her or my family in Canada because of lockdown. I needed to do something for my mind and with the energy I couldn't explain but definitely felt. Plus, for a part of the day I needed to focus my energy on something that wasn't about things that were outside of me such as my son, my husband, my work etc. So I took to the mat. I have completed 3, 30-day challenges. As a result, I sleep better, I feel stronger, I notice the little changes in my flexibility and ability to do and hold certain poses, and I feel grateful to my body for supporting me. Having a 30 day challenge meant I had to commit. The challenge was the commitment. And that commitment was the focus. At first. The classes were varied in style and levels and they kicked my ass. During poses I would actually shout out to the iPad, "are you f***king kidding me???" But I was determined to keep going partly because for that one hour I had the "me time" I so desperately needed. The classes have also given me goals that have nothing to do with the wider picture of who I am or what, as a professional, I need to accomplish. These goals are physical and definitely mental. I haven't reached them all yet even after all these years. But interestingly though, if I was to tell a story of my life through yoga, you would find a person who was vastly different to the one I am today. Back when I started to practice yoga, my goals were different compared to what they are now and exploring the tougher poses wasn't part of what was then my end goal. Throughout the years those goals have evolved from wanting to have a "perfect" body because back then I was told by every magazine and tv show that those actually exist. So, I joined power yoga classes. Then I evolved to needing to feel I was doing something with my days other than working and sleeping (this was when I was presenting a morning show and was thus on the overnight shift). So I looked towards a flow like ashtanga yoga which synchronises breath with movement. It was also a way for me to meet new people during those socially oppressive hours and also when I had moved to a new city. Then I progressed to redirecting my frustrations at my life and career by taking up Bikram (hot) yoga. 90 minutes of 26 poses in a punishing temperature (41C or 105.1F). Today my focus is to feel strong--in my mind, in my heart, and in my body. It's not about weight loss or a "bikini body" or filling a void. There are so many many poses that I want to master but that's what excites me about it. That there is so much for me to do and explore. I'm not looking for "results" per se. I'm not looking for anything. On the mat, I find me, the me I am that day. And every day it can be different. One day I could be the confident go-getter, the next I could be tired, frustrated. And each day the yoga I do, helps to connect to those parts of me that need attention. Yoga is a practice in paradoxes. We are asked to remain fluid in our pose yet stay still in our mind. It's a paradox that we see in life every day. Remain focused yet always be open to go with the proverbial flow. When I am balancing or focusing on a pose, I stare out and look at the trees in our back garden and see how they reach for the sun; strong, determined, and beautiful. Like the trees, our bodies are designed to move with determination, with strength, with beauty. Like trees, we need to feel grounded, rooted in our right to be who we are or who we want to be. Our physiology, the intricate mechanics of our physical system, is designed to heal itself--if we just let it, if we just give it the optimal chance. This time has given me a hunger to keep my muscles moving, stretching, strengthening. While I had a deep appreciation for what my body could do especially after growing another human inside me and then giving birth, old mentality and expectations have been hard to shift. I no longer criticise what I see in the mirror and find fault with everything. Ok, maybe I still do that, but I am also appreciative of what I see too. With every "flaw" I notice, I also find something I am proud of. For me, that's a start. Yoga is about the process, not about perfection. It is about recognising we're all a work in progress and that nobody is perfect. Each day I come to practice is a day for me to see what needs my attention, what I need to work on, what I have been able to improve. It's a way of thinking that I take with me beyond my practice--from my work here in The Citrine Room and elsewhere, to being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. It reminds me that as long as I put in the effort, as long as what I do is with the best of intentions, with heart, with honesty, then each move I make will lead me somewhere new whether it is a deeper connection or a focused determination to keep trusting my journey. My job is to enjoy and appreciate the route. As my virtual yoga teacher Erin says after each class, "may you have peace in your thoughts, peace in your words, and peace in your heart." Namaste, Monita xo PS: If you're wondering, these are just some of the poses that are huge challenges for me right now. I've put them on my "long term list": -crow pose--that's where you're balancing on your hands with the weight of your body on your shoulders. I am now able to hold the pose for 1.5 seconds! -headstand--self explanatory. Right now I can do a headstand as long as I know there is a wall to support me, just in case. -handstand--have not even gone there yet. I mean kids can do this, yet my mind can't even go there! I even saw someone on instagram doing a one handed handstand. It boggles my mind. -side crow--like crow but placing your weight and focus on one side. One day...one day....
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